Trump’s quest to end net neutrality just ran into a roadblock in the Senate

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It may turn out to only be symbolic, but it is significant that 50 U.S. Senators are ready to vote to stop the FCC from repealing the Net Neutrality rules which allow broadband providers like Spectrum and AT&T to charge extra for favored treatment on the web, and to slow down the delivery of websites that refuse to pay them.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced today that all 49 Democratic Senators and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are will vote to override the FCC’s vote along party lines to kill the Net Neutrality rules established under the Obama administration.

“With full caucus support,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the lawmakers spearheading the effort, “it’s clear that Democrats are committed to fighting to keep the Internet from becoming the Wild West where ISPs are free to offer premium service to only the wealthiest customers while average consumers are left with far inferior options.”

While the Democrats are on board, the big news is that Collins is also ready to vote against the FCC action. If one more Republican Senator joins them, the Senate will be able to successfully pass a resolution to counter the FCC’s actions.

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What they are doing is likely symbolic because the same vote against the FCC would have to pass the Republican-dominated House, and would have to be signed by Republican President Trump, both of which appear to be highly unlikely.

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The move to repeal the Net Neutrality rules passed in 2015 has been led by Ajit Pai, who was appointed as FCC chairman by Trump and has been a big supporter of Trump.

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The three Republicans on the FCC, including Pai, voted for repeal, while the two Democrats voted against it.

After a so-called independent agency like the FCC votes, lawmakers have 60 days to reverse it under the Congressional Review Act.

If, as is almost certain, the move to reverse the FCC isn’t passed in Congress or signed by Trump, the Democrats have already strongly signaled they will make this a high priority campaign issue, because free access to the Internet is an emotional subject for many Americans. 

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Many big Silicon Valley companies including Google, Twitter, and Apple – who send content over the world wide web – have strongly opposed repeal of the Net Neutrality rules.

Opponents of the repeal of Net Neutrality are expected to file one or more lawsuits against the FCC’s action, which will also keep the issue in the news during the coming midterm election cycle.

What Trump’s FCC is doing despite a lot of public anger and millions of comments against it, is another anti-consumer, pro-business act that favors certain ultrarich companies that want to use their power to control the web and charge ever more for services that today are free or low cost.

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As has been the case with so much of what Trump does, this repeal is a slap in the face of most Americans who depend on the internet for communications, work, and leisure. What the 50 Senators who are ready to vote to stop the FCC are doing makes them the real American heroes.

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Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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